23 November 2019

Review: Perilous Dark

I've now read through Perilous Dark a few times and want to write a quick review of it.

I got Perilous Dark from the quick description of the book, I pre-ordered it (I haven't with all the expansions) as it promised rules for soloplay and randomly generated dungeons. 

When buying Perilous Dark will you get that? Yes, you will. Is the book what I thought it would be? No, it's not.

Perilous Dark contains a nice ten scenario coop / solo campaign, designed for new wizards. There's a lot of good hours of work in this.

The toolbox

But mostly Perilous Dark is a mix toolbox and game design theory. The only other expansion having toolbox elements is Into The Breeding Pits. That expansion gives you some tools, direct changes to gameplay if playing in dungeons. "If playing in Dungeons, here's the tools to do that". 

Perilous Dark comes with lots of tools / suggestions for designing your own scenarios. Lots of ideas and methods when making up your own scenario. Good things to consider. A lot of these suggestions are rather open - not set in stone, it's more like examples.

A good thing I learned (that I've never considered) is the use of dungeon cards, to make up random dungeons. Quick cards that tell what you encounter. I'll have to make some for my dungeon project, for random placement of tiles and monsters.

I was anticipating something more concrete, I was expecting to see more locked frame work for playing solo games. I had expected loads more of random tables, to generate scenarios, objectives and so on for me. So the beside the campaign, the expansions needs some work from me. 

Will I get around to that? I doubt it. There's so many written scenarios that I haven't played yet, and despite them not being written for solo play - the tools provided here will let me make adapt them well I think.

The solo and the coop
The expansion adds rules for both coop and solo games. I'll be using this mostly for the solo experience. The campaign is written to work with going solo, start fresh and play through.

The game makes quick and easy update to the monster priority table - making them choose weaker targets and attacking smarter. These are written addition, that we almost excactly house ruled earlier ourself.

For coop game, the rules are really simple. You get to hire 4 soldiers (instead of 8) and you skip the apprentice. This is for balance and speed. Your partner will then bring the same thing, four soldiers and no apprentice.

Now two wizards is of cause much better than one and apprentice. You get access to two different schools and have two times wizard stats. The book offers balance for the campaign with a section in each scenario description. Small tweaks for added difficulty in coop games, one example is with an expanded random monster table (more numbers and more dangerous).

The thoughts

The wording in the book differs from other expansions as well. There's a lot of what can best be described as 'thoughts of the author' - the introduction section points it out as well. Joeseph has written a lot of Frostgrave and Rangers of Shadow Deep over the last couple of years, an the expansion has a 'memoir' vibe going on. Lot of designer thoughts, pros and cons theory on the different tools mentioned above.

For me that makes for a fascinating read, as I've spend so many hours between the Frostgrave systems.

The campaignThe campaign that's provided seems to be a good one. Ten scenarios for a new wizard and warband to work their way through. Unlike like the previous campaigns, with a huge epic story containing 'save the World' elements - this is smaller in scale.

Your wizard gets a tip about some treasure, and is pushed from scenario to scenario, down the rabit hole. The theme of the scenarios seem to be that the wizard get a hint of awesome treasure and go hunting for it. The scenario made me think of the first Frostgrave novel and the warband that travels around in it (both novels are awesome by the way).

Another thing I like about this campaign is the different setups that come in to play. Unlike many other Frostgrave scenarios it doesn't have super specific and crazy terrain pieces needed. But the scenarios are taking place in both city ruins and dungeon settings.

Plenty of new monsters however - as there always seem to be. Lotsof weird ones as well.

Final thoughts
I'm happy I got Perilous Dark. For me there's sufficient value in the 10 scenario solo campaign - that'll bring in lots of hours worth of gaming. And I'm happy to have it in a complete collection.

Is the book what I thought it would be? No. I would have loved a balanced and tested 'roll up a random mission' generator. But it's alright.

If you expect rules for fighting an AI wizard warband - you won't be getting that. That's okay, that'll be really hard to do in a good and smooth way - if not impossible.

Is this book for everyone? No, I don't think it is. If you don't plan on playing solo, I don't think you need to get it. There's no new spells or warriors in it.

Is it a good expansion - yes it is. Well setup, excellent new art, good content.

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